2006 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Carmichael, King, Mettetal, White, Kirby

Senate Resolution 3


     WHEREAS, James Francis Risher of Meridian, Mississippi, was an American hero who witnessed and took part in the most important operations of the War in the Pacific during World War II; and

     WHEREAS, Mr. Risher was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on March 2, 1920, and died on November 23, 2002.  He was the grandson of an Irish immigrant who farmed in Laurel, Mississippi, before the War Between the States, and the grandson of a Spanish sugarcane grower in Cuba in the late 1800s; and

     WHEREAS, he grew up in Meridian, Mississippi, during the Depression, graduated from St. Aloysius, enlisted at the Meridian Naval Air Station in 1939, and was trained as an electrical technician; and

     WHEREAS, James Francis' historic war record began in 1941 when he was assigned to the USS California and was a survivor of the December 7th Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor, where he swam to shore after the battleship was hit.  He was transferred to the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, and was present at the Battle of Coral Sea on May 7, 1942, the incredible victory at the Battle of Midway, June 6, 1942, which was the turning point in the War in the Pacific.  The Yorktown was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the final hours of the Battle of Midway, and James Francis was the last man rescued from the sea that day, after he had stayed in the water to help his fellow shipmates.  He had a reputation as a boxer on the ship and continued in the Navy in the Pacific throughout World War II; and

     WHEREAS, as a young man, after World War II he was active as a Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America in Meridian, Mississippi; began work with South Central Bell and retired from South Central Bell in 1981 after 40 years of service; founding member of the Telephone Pioneers of America; served as Council Committee Service Chairman of Telephone Pioneers; prepared talking books for the blind; Club President of Retired Members Club; President of Life Members Club; and received the Civic Appreciation Award from the Salvation Army in 1981.  James Francis was widely known and highly regarded at Bell South throughout Mississippi, and continued to work after retirement doing utility inventory for the telephone and utility companies in Greenwood, Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, James Francis was always active in community and church service.  He was a member of the VFW and served regularly as a lifeguard at the VFW in Greenwood, Mississippi, in the 1970s.  He did volunteer work in the Delta area for retirement homes and veteran groups regularly, gave lectures regarding World War II events, was active in special senior events, Christmas caroling and playing Santa Claus, and was an active member of the Catholic Church in Greenwood, including singing in the choir at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.  He volunteered his mechanical and handyman skills assisting elderly and others in need and would regularly shuttle people to the doctor or the airport in Memphis, Tennessee, or Jackson, Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, James Francis was married to Alfreda Simmons, who passed away on November 13, 2005; one sister, Renee Lowenberg of St. Charles, Missouri; three children, Stephen Risher, Memphis, Stephenie Risher, Houston, Texas, and James Al Risher, Houston, Texas; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren; and

     WHEREAS, it is with great pride that we remember the gallant war record and community service of this American Hero, who loved his country, his family, his church and his state:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That we do hereby remember the gallant service and commend the civic and charitable service of the late James Francis Risher of Meridian, Mississippi, a veteran of the Attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway, and extend to his family the best wishes of the Mississippi Senate in his memory.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to the family of James Francis Risher and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.